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The large black areas on the adjoining chart are formed by combining and plotting current figures on New Building, Crops, Clearings, Immigration, Total Foreign Trade, Money, Failures, Commodity Prices, Railroad Earnings, Stock Prices and Politics in order to give a composite view of business in the United States. (When Interstate Commerce reports of earnings of all United States railroads became available, January, 1909, this record was subst.i.tuted in place of the earnings of ten representative roads which had been used previous to that time. Revised scales for monetary figures were also introduced, in August, 1912.)
The line X-Y represents the country's net gain or growth. Based on the economic theory that "action and reaction are equal when the two factors of time and intensity are multiplied to form an area," the sums of the areas above and below said line X-Y must, over sufficiently long periods of time, be equal, provided enough subjects are included, properly weighed and combined. An area of prosperity is always followed by an area of depression; an area of depression in turn is always followed by an area of prosperity. The areas, however, need not have the same shapes.
It will be seen that each area is divided into halves by a narrow white line. This is to emphasize the fact that the first halves of areas below the X-Y line are really reactions from the extravagance, inefficiency and corruption which existed during the latter half of the preceding "prosperity" area. Contrariwise, the first halves of areas above the X-Y line are really reactions from the economy, industry and righteousness developed during the hard times just preceding. The high points of the stock market have come in the early part of the prosperity areas and the low points have come about the beginning of the depression areas. In 1914 the war held down prices of all securities. The highest prices of bonds have usually come about the end of the depression areas and high money rates, and lowest bond prices at about the end of the prosperity areas.
But what causes these fluctuations in business and prices? Statistics show that panics are caused by spiritual causes, rather than financial, and that prosperity is the result of righteousness rather than of material things. Hence, the importance to industry and commerce of the forces already mentioned. These spiritual forces are the true fundamentals of prosperity. This in turn leads us to consider from where they come and upon what we are to depend for their further development.
The following pages will give the answer.
What are the sources of these fundamentals of prosperity? Where do we get this faith, integrity, industry, cooperation and interest in the soul of man upon which civilization is based?
As already explained, we do not get it from the raw materials. We have always had the raw materials. We do not get it from education. From a statistical point of view Germany is the best educated country in the world. It has the least illiteracy. It has the largest percentage of scientific culture. No, these three fundamentals do not come from education. They do not come from the inheritance of property. I mentioned in the preceding pages the investigation we made of leading captains of industry in America, the men who head the various greatest industries in this country. Out of this group of men, only ten per cent.
inherited their business, while only fifteen per cent. received special education. This shows that the source of these qualities is from something more than wealth or education.
We are striving and even slaving to lay up property for our children, when statistics clearly show that the more we lay up for them the worse off they are going to be. If statistics demonstrate any one thing, they demonstrate that the less money we leave our children the better off they will be; not only spiritually and physically, but also financially.
When it comes to the question of education, we work and economize to give our children an education and to send our children to college. Yet statistics show that only a small percentage of these leading business men are college graduates.
The success of individuals, the success of communities, the success of nations, depends on these fundamentals,--integrity, faith, industry, brotherly kindness and an interest in the soul of man. To what do we owe these great fundamental qualities? _Statistics show clearly that we owe them to religion._ Yes, and to the old-fashioned religion of our forefathers. Moreover, I say this not as a churchman. I would give the same message if I were speaking to a group of bankers or a group of engineers. I was first brought into the Church through the Christian Endeavour Society, but I was really converted to the Bible teachings through a study of statistics.
To religion we owe our civilization and to the Church we owe our religion. All there is in the world to-day that is worth while comes from men filled with, and from groups actuated by, these fundamentals of integrity, faith, industry, brotherly love and those other factors which come only through G.o.d. The Church to-day deserves the credit for keeping these factors before the world. Hence, it is evident that the people of America have not the bankers to thank for their security and prosperity, but rather the preachers and the churches. To these men we are obligated for our growth and development.
WHERE THE CHURCH FALLS DOWN
Become saturated with Christ's principles, be clean and upright, cooperate with one another, have faith, serve, trust the Almighty for the results, and you will never have to worry about property. "If you will do these things, all of the others will be given to you."
There are two groups of people who criticize the Church. First, there are those who claim great love for their fellow-men, but do not go to church because it is allied with the property interests of the community. I believe that to be the fundamental reason why the wage workers, labour leaders, socialists and radicals are not interested in the Church. They believe that the Church is too closely allied with property. I have been severely criticized myself for presenting the Church as a defender of property and as a means of making your home, your business and your securities safer. Such critics are perfectly conscientious and the Church suffers much because those people, in their love for humanity, are antagonistic to the Church.
The second group are those defenders of property who look upon the Church as impractical; who consider the Golden Rule as something all right for the minister to talk about on Sundays, but something useless to try to follow during the week. Those men criticize the Church for preaching love, for talking the Sermon on the Mount, and for being what they say is "impractical." So the Church suffers to-day by having both of these groups stand off alone. Neither of them is interested in the Church, the most important organization in America. It is the Church which has created America, which has developed our schools, which has created our homes, which has built our cities, which has developed our industries, which has made our hospitals, charities, and which has done everything that is worth while in America.
Yet to-day, the Church is the most discarded industry of all, because it has not the cooperation of either of the above groups,--the radical group which claims to be interested only in humanity and not in property, and the propertied group which frankly says that it is primarily interested in property and not humanity. It seems that we should stop side-stepping this question. Instead we should face it squarely and answer both of these criticisms. My answer is as follows:
Jesus was not interested in property, _per se_. There is no question but that Jesus had no interest in property. These things which look so important to us,--houses, roads, taxation, buildings, fields, crops, foreign trade, ships,--it is very evident were insignificant to Jesus.
When any of Jesus' disciples came to Him to settle some property question, He pushed them aside and said He was too busy to consider it.
I am sure that if Jesus were here to-day, He would tell us all that we are idiots for striving so to acc.u.mulate things--building ourselves bigger houses, getting bigger bank accounts and more automobiles. Hence, when the socialist or the radical or the labour leader complains to me, I frankly admit this fact. Without doubt the Church should emphasize that property _of itself_ is of no value, and the only things worth while in life are happiness and the health and the freedom which come from living an upright, simple life.
On the other hand, and this point I wish to emphasize just as strongly, Jesus took the position throughout His teachings, that if His disciples would simply get saturated with His fundamentals, if they would be clean and upright, if they would cooperate with one another, if they would have faith to serve and trust the Almighty for the results, they would never have to worry about property. Property would take care of itself.
Jesus emphasized, first, that they should not think of property; but He always closed His discourses by some such statement as this: "If you will do these things, all of the others will be given to you."
It is absolutely impossible for any individual to develop the above fundamentals of prosperity,--faith, integrity, industry and brotherly kindness--without being successful. I care not whether he is a doctor, teacher, banker, lawyer, business man or manufacturer. That same thing is true of groups and of nations. It is fundamental law, "Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." Those who serve will be served; those who knock will be knocked; those who boost will be boosted. We are paid in the coin that we give. We are forgiven as we forgive. If we are friendly, we will make friends.
Statistics show that the Church is the greatest factor in the worldly success of men, groups and nations. Some readers may have seen a book written by Professor Carver of Harvard ent.i.tled, "The Religion Worth Having." In that book the author discusses the various denominations of Christianity. Then he says most conclusively that the religion worth having, the religion that will survive, is the religion which produces the most. Yet this production will not come by seeking production _per se_, but rather by the development of these fundamental characteristics which have been described.
Try as you will you cannot separate the factor of religion from economic development. In the work conducted by my Organization at Wellesley Hills we study the trend of religious interest as closely as we do the condition of the banks or the supply of and demand for commodities.
Statistics of church membership form one of the best barometers of business conditions. We have these figures charted back for the past fifty years. Whenever this line of religious interest turns downward and reaches a low level, history shows that it is time to prepare for a reaction and depression in business conditions. Every great panic we have ever had has been foreshadowed by a general decline in observance of religious principles. On the other hand, when the line of religious interest begins to climb and the nation turns again to the simple mode of living laid by in the Bible, then it is time to make ready for a period of business prosperity.
THE FUTURE CHURCH
The time is coming when the Church will awake to its great opportunities. The greatest industry in America but the most backward and inefficiently operated, is still in the stage-coach cla.s.s.
Of course the Church is very far from developed. The Church is in the same position to-day as were the water-powers fifty years ago. The Church has great resources; but these resources are sadly undeveloped.
From an efficiency point of view, from an organization point of view, from a production point of view, the Church to-day is in the stage-coach cla.s.s. It holds within itself the keys of prosperity. It holds within itself the salvation and solution of our industrial, commercial and international problems. Yet it is working, or at least the Protestant branch is open, only three or four hours a week. The Church has the greatest opportunity to-day of any industry. It is the least developed industry, the most inefficiently operated, and the most backward in its methods.
Let us shut our eyes and look ahead at what it will be twenty-five years from now. Let us imagine five churches within a radius of five miles.
All of them now operating independently. Each one open only a few hours a week. Twenty-five years from now these five churches will be linked up together under a general manager who will not be a parson, but who will be a business man.
To-day the preacher of our churches is a combination of preacher, business manager, and salesman. He is the service department, the finance department and everything but the janitor. The Church is being operated to-day as a college would be operated with one professor, who would be president, treasurer, general manager, and everything else. The Church is being operated to-day as a factory with simply a production man and no one to tend the finances or the sales. Manufacturers reading this book know how long a factory could be run with only a superintendent and no one to sell or finance the proposition.
Twenty-five years from to-day, instead of the pastor being at the head of the church and a few good people doing voluntary work, there will be four or five churches of the same denomination united under one general manager. I do not mean by this that four of them will be closed. They will all be open much more than they are now; but they will all be under one general manager and will be taking orders from that general manager.
Twenty-five years from to-day the churches will be self-supporting. The days of begging will be over. Religion has been cheapened by singing about "salvation's free for you and me." When we have our legal difficulties, we go to a lawyer and pay him; when we have a pain we go to a doctor and pay him; if we want our children taught we pay the price; but if we want our children instructed in the fundamentals of prosperity upon which their future depends, we send them to a Sunday School for a half-hour a week with the possibility of having them taught by a silly girl who doesn't know her work. In any event the parent seldom takes the trouble to ascertain the quality of the teaching.
The time is coming when the Church will awake to its great principles and opportunities. The greatest industry in America is still the most backward and most inefficiently operated. When these four or five churches are combined, the preacher will not have to spend half the week in preparing a different sermon every Sunday. He will have two weeks or a month to prepare that sermon. He will have time and have the "pep" and energy to deliver it to you so you won't go to sleep while sitting in the pews. The audience will then hear the same preacher only once each month, and the preacher will then have more than one congregation to appeal to.
The same man is not going to be expected to preach on Love, Hate, the League of Nations, How to Settle Labour Disputes and the Health of the Community and every other subject. All of these men will preach the salvation of Jesus, but each one will specialize in one particular phase of the Christian life, such as Faith, Integrity, Industry, Cooperation.
Then we will take more stock in our preachers because they won't pretend to know every subject. Then the preacher will not be of lesser intelligence than the average audience.
Fifty years ago the ablest men in every community were the preachers, the doctors, and the lawyers. They were the only college graduates of the town and were looked up to. To-day, while we pay our salesmanagers from $15,000 to $20,000 a year, and lawyers and doctors large fees, we pay our preachers only miserable salaries. It's a d.a.m.nable disgrace to all of us. I often think that if Jesus were to come back to us, that He would take for His text that thought from the Sermon on the Mount, "If you have aught against your neighbour, before you enter into your worship go and square up." I think that when He came in to speak to us on Sunday morning, He would say:
"Gentlemen, I suggest that before we have this service, we raise funds to pay the preacher a decent salary."
Just before I went to Brazil I was the guest of the President of the Argentine Republic. After lunching one day we sat in his sun parlour looking out over the river. He was very thoughtful. He said, "Mr.
Babson, I have been wondering why it is that South America with all its great natural advantages is so far behind North America notwithstanding that South America was settled before North America." Then he went on to tell how the forests of South America had two hundred and eighty-six trees that can be found in no book of botany. He told me about many ranches that had thousands of acres under alfalfa in one block. He mentioned the mines of iron, coal, copper, silver, gold; all those great rivers and water-powers which rival Niagara. "Why is it, with all these natural resources, South America is so far behind North America?" he asked. Well, those of you who have been there know the reason. But, being a guest, I said:
"Mr. President, what do you think is the reason?"
He replied: "I have come to this conclusion. South America was settled by the Spanish who came to South America in search of _gold_, but North America was settled by the Pilgrim Fathers who went there in search of _G.o.d_."
Friends, let us as American citizens never kick down the ladder by which we climbed up. Let us never forget the foundation upon which all permanent prosperity is based.